“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.
In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’
Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, Father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Words of Hope
This gristly story was always one I remember as stressing charity and benevolence and it does, but in the light of today’s pandemic it has a different meaning to me as well. I am thinking of all the people who refuse to get vaccinated and refuse to wear face masks, who by their actions have helped prolong this awful pandemic.
They have heard scientists and public officials urge these precautions and have not heeded the warnings. Some healthcare workers are among this group. They have seen hundreds die from the virus, yet they will not get vaccinated.
I have heard stories of a few who have ended up hospitalized and as they are gasping for breath finally understand the seriousness of the disease, and unfortunately for some it is too late.
As Abraham replied to the rich man who was tormented in Hades. “‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
May we remember to listen to the words sent to us by God through the voices of scientists and doctors and take precautions to protect not only ourselves but our community.